Joan Hess is a writer and educator. She was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1949. She received a B.A. in art from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and an M.A. in education from Long Island University in 1974. For several years, she taught art in a private preschool. She has lectured at Southwest Missouri State University, the University of Arkansas, Rice University, and Xavier University. She is also a columnist for Mystery Scene Magazine. From 1982 to 1984, she wrote 10 unpublished romance novels. In 1986, she published Strangled Prose, which was chosen as the best first novel in the 1986 Drood Review Readers Poll and nominated for an Anthony Award. She is the author of Claire Malloy Mystery series and the Arly Hanks Mystery series. A Diet to Die For won the American Mystery Award for best traditional novel of 1989. A short story, "Too Much to Bare," received the Agatha Award in 1990 and the McCavity Award in 1991. She also writes under the pen name Joan Hadley. Joan Hess is a winner of the American Mystery Award, a member of Sister's in Crime, and a former president of the American Crime Writers League.